'Iran agro production to hit 200mn tons'
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says the country's annual production of agricultural goods will exceed 200 million tons in four years, Press TV reported.
The president made the remarks on Sunday at a meeting with managers and senior officials of the Agricultural Jihad Ministry, IRNA reported.
Ahmadinejad said the government will allocate 60 trillion rials (around $6 billion) to the key sector to help achieve that target.
"This is not an unusual demand... The agricultural sector should be the most active sector of the country. When the agro sector grows, the economic and cultural paradigms of the society will also change," he told participants at the meeting.
"Success in this sector is a source of pride and glory for the nation... The agro sector is the backbone of the national economy," he added.
He went on to say that some of the world's agricultural products have become key components of national security, but expressed concern that agro products are being used as a pressure tool by the system of the hegemonistic powers in order to impose their demands on other nations.
"Iranian farmers have the ability to produce three times as much as what they produce now. Almost 18 million hectares of land are under cultivation of the 36 million hectares of arable land in the country," Ahmadinejad noted.
At meeting, Iranian Agricultural Jihad Minister Sadeq Khalilian said an average of 68,000 hectares of irrigation canals are constructed in the country every year.
Khalilian noted that the country reached self-sufficiency in wheat production this year, adding that Iran's wheat production has increased by 70 percent compared to the volume in the previous year, despite the drought in seven provinces.
In addition, the director of the Export Promotion Office of the Trade Promotion Organization of Iran announced on Sunday that Iran's fruit exports increased 79 percent in the first six months of the current Iranian calendar year (March 21 to September 21) compared to the same period in the previous year.
Mehrdad Jalalipour said Iran exported 231 million tons of fruits during the six-month period.